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Where are Britain’s fishes?

25.10.2004


Issued on behalf of NERC’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology



The first comprehensive national ‘stocktake’ of freshwater fishes in Britain is published this weekend in a fascinating hard-back book and a new internet-based database. The book includes a unique set of species distribution maps incorporating records dating from the 17th Century through to the present day.

Until the compilation of this data, freshwater fish were the only vertebrate group that did not have an up-to-date source of information on where different species can be found in British waters. This new record will be a valuable reference tool for people who manage fisheries or work in river conservation, and for other researchers and those with a general interest in their natural environment.


Cynthia Davies from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Dorset has been a leading force in compiling and editing the information. She said, “We undertook this project to fill an important gap in our knowledge of British biodiversity. Although many records existed there was no complete view of the types of freshwater fishes and how they are spread across the UK. It’s been a long haul but we now have real baseline data on a national scale, which also provides a starting point for new research.”

The database and book are the culmination of eight years work involving scientists from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Environment Agency, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and many other partners and contributors.

The book looks at the origins of the fish species we have in Britain, how they have been isolated from European populations and why they are important. It illustrates the physical appearance of fishes, their biology and behaviour, typical habitats and geographical locations. It also looks at how introduced species such as the Zander, or Pikeperch, which prey on other fishes can affect native populations; the impacts of pollution and how humans feature in the equation. The book features the work of 38 different authors, many of whom give expert accounts of individual fish species.

Cynthia Davies added, “The project was the brainchild of Paul Harding, who has been a tremendous influence in biological recording in this country. I’m thrilled that it has resulted in such a readable book.”

Paul Harding is the former Head of the UK’s Biological Records Centre at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Cambridgeshire.

Marion O’Sullivan | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nerc.ac.uk

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